Meet NRA-ILA's Former Executive Director
Chris W. Cox served as the executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the political and lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, until 2019.
As NRA’s principal political strategist, Cox oversaw eight NRA-ILA divisions: Federal Affairs; State & Local Affairs; Public Affairs; Grassroots; Finance; Research & Information; Conservation, Wildlife & Natural Resources; and Office of Legislative Counsel. Cox also serves as chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), the Association’s political action committee; president of the NRA Freedom Action Foundation (NRA-FAF), which focuses on non-partisan voter registration and citizen education; and chairman of NRA Country, an effort to bring country music artists together with NRA members in support of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage.
While directing NRA’s nationwide legislative and political efforts, Cox developed and executed independent, political campaign and legislative initiatives; coordinated national advertising and direct mail programs; and has administrative responsibility over NRA-ILA’s $33 million budget. He also served as chairman on President Trump's Second Amendment Coalition and as the principal contact to the Association's principal contact with the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the White House and federal agencies.
Under Cox’s leadership, NRA achieved some of its most significant political and legislative victories: recently, the outcome of the 2016 elections; legislation to protect American firearm manufacturers from reckless lawsuits brought by anti-gun mayors and gun control groups; a federal law, as well as laws in many states, to prevent government authorities from confiscating firearms from lawful citizens in the wake of natural disasters, such as occurred after Hurricane Katrina; legislation to allow lawful concealed-carry permit holders to carry firearms in national parks; Castle Doctrine legislation; and more.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2008 Heller decision that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to keep and bear arms for personal protection, Cox directed swift action to file legal challenges against gun bans in San Francisco and Chicago. In 2010, the Court heard NRA’s legal arguments that the Heller decision should not just apply to federal enclaves, but to every individual, law-abiding American, regardless of where he or she lives. In June 2010, by a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Second Amendment guarantees the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all Americans.
As previous chairman of NRA’s Political Victory Fund, Cox directed NRA’s electoral campaigns at every level. From presidential campaigns to congressional, state and local races, NRA has achieved success at unprecedented levels. Today, NRA members benefit from tremendous political support in congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative offices across the country. National television networks and cable news outlets, in addition to prominent daily and weekly publications, sought Cox's insight on policy and political matters. He was a prime time speaker during the Republican National Convention in 2016, has been published in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications defending gun rights and responding to media inaccuracies on a variety of firearm, hunting and NRA-related matters.
Prior to joining NRA, Cox served as a senior legislative aide in Congress, managing issues relating to the judicial system, criminal justice reform and firearm freedoms. He is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in business administration. He grew up hunting and fishing with his father and three brothers in west Tennessee. Cox resides in Virginia with his family.